jefferson longshotWritten by Don Byrd

As the highest law enforcement official in the state, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is a named defendant in the suit that earlier this month halted HB 1523, a controversial law shielding businesses, individuals, and religious organizations from penalty for actions taken in accordance with certain religious beliefs. Following Judge Reeves’ injunction against enforcement of the law, Hood issued a pretty remarkable statement criticizing the measure.

Here is an excerpt:

“… The fact is that the churchgoing public was duped into believing that HB1523 protected religious freedoms. Our state leaders attempted to mislead pastors into believing that if this bill were not passed, they would have to preside over gay wedding ceremonies.  No court case has ever said a pastor did not have discretion to refuse to marry any couple for any reason.  I hate to see politicians continue to prey on people who pray, go to church, follow the law and help their fellow man.

“I believe in the free exercise of religion and there will be a case in the future in which the U.S. Supreme Court will better define our religious rights.  This case, however, is not that vehicle.  “In consideration of the individual rights of all our citizens, the state’s current budget crisis and the cost of appeal, I will have to think long and hard about spending taxpayer money to appeal the case against me. 

While Attorney General Hood considers an appeal, the Governor has appealed the ruling. Stay tuned.